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EFL to sell overseas rights to cash in on appeal of English football

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 28/07/2021 Charlie Walker For Mailonline
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The EFL is putting its overseas broadcast rights up for sale as it seeks to cash in on the popularity of English football and maximise income for its 72 clubs.

The league is currently guaranteed at least £23 million per year from international broadcasters, but despite a challenging market it will be hoping for an increase on that figure in the next rights sale.

While the Premier League is the crown jewels of global football, the Championship, League One and Two also have enduring appeal.

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Under the existing arrangements, in which matches are sold through an agency, Pitch International, 500 million people watch EFL action each year in 150 countries.

The Championship is one of the most-watched leagues in European football, in terms of attendances, according to the European Leagues organisation, underlining the potential value of the EFL in the broadcast market.

The Bundesliga, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and the Dutch Eredivisie topped the list, but the Championship was ranked seventh in the study, published in 2018.

England's League One was sixteenth in the list beating many of Europe's higher divisions. The appeal is attributed to the unpredictability of the league and cup competitions, as well as the atmosphere generated by English football rivalries.

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The EFL is steadily strengthening its commercial position after a desperate 18 months caused by the Covid pandemic.

Earlier this year, the league extended its partnership with Carabao, which will see the Thai drinks firm continue to support the league cup until 2024, in a deal now worth £42 million in total.

The two-year extension was worth £12 million.

In addition, the EFL landed a deal worth almost £1 million with PUMA to supply the league's 72 clubs with match balls in all competitions from next season.

The surprise announcement will see PUMA replace Mitre, which has provided the league's footballs for 45 years.

The new balls will be in use in the 1,891 matches football league clubs are due to play across the Sky Bet Championship, League One, League Two, Carabao Cup and Papa John's Trophy each season for the next three years.

The current five-year deal for overseas' rights, which was worth £115 million overall, is due to expire at the end of the coming season and today the EFL issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for parties to express an interest.

Sportsmail understands it is seeking to sell the rights for a two-year period, given the uncertainty around the future of the Carabao Cup because UEFA's controversial plans to dramatically expand the Champions League could reduce the available dates in the football calendar.

At this stage, the league wants potential buyers to set out how they would maximise revenue and combine traditional broadcasts with social media and its own streaming service, iFollow, which has become increasingly significant during the pandemic.

The EFL recruited independent advisor Oliver and Ohlbaum Associates (O&O) last year to advise on how to maximise the income from its international rights sale.

EFL Chief Commercial Officer, Ben Wright said: 'Over the past 12-month period we have been working closely with our advisors to establish the best possible approach to the sale of our future international broadcast rights as we near the conclusion of our existing deal and consider current market conditions.

'The EFL continues to be one of the most unpredictable and exciting League competitions as well as being home to a cup competition that consistently offers opportunities for player development alongside showcasing some of the world's best players.'

In 2016, the EFL and Pitch announced a renewal of their international rights agreement and the deal represented a 68-per-cent increase on the previous agreement.

The league sold domestic broadcast rights to Sky TV in 2018 in a five-year deal worth £595 million.

The domestic rights sale attracted complaints from some Championship clubs, which felt it had not realised the value of the league's media rights and they feared digital options for midweek games would undermine attendances.

Following that sale, the EFL commissioned an independent report to assess how it negotiates TV deals.

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